Conservative and far-right MEPs fight to stop total ban on C02 emitting vehicles

Gas leaves the exhaust pipe of a car in Frankfurt, Germany.
Gas leaves the exhaust pipe of a car in Frankfurt, Germany. Copyright MICHAEL PROBST/AP
By Christopher Pitchers
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EU Lawmakers will vote on a raft of climate measures Wednesday, aimed at reducing emissions by 55 per cent before the end of the decade.


Right-leaning members of the European Parliament want to stop an EU proposal that would effectively end the sale of petrol and diesel cars.

Last year, the European Commission laid out plans to end the sale of all vehicles using internal combustion engines.

The move was part of its ambitious climate package known as Fit for 55 - a series of 12 measures presented as a roadmap to reduce EU emissions by 55 per cent by 2030.

But with MEPs deciding their position on over half of these measures, including a total ban on new petrol and diesel cars by 2035, conservative and far-right lawmakers in the European Parliament say they want to allow car manufacturers to continue making fuel-guzzling cars, so they can be used with ‘synthetic' fuels.

For the EPP group - part of the bloc of conservatives aiming to stop the proposal - it is about protecting jobs.

"Let’s not put all our eggs in one basket when setting new rules for clean cars," said Jens Gieseke MEP. "We have to deliver on emission reductions while ensuring that the economy can manage the social transition. 

"Mandating a phase-out of combustion engines could put up to 500,000 jobs at risk in the automotive industry. Member States whose economies are heavily reliant on the car industry must get space and time to adjust and find solutions."

MEPs on the other side of the debate reject this idea, saying most car makers have already made their minds up about going electric.

"We say by 2035 there should be no combustion engines new to the market and they want to stop that," Michael Bloss, a German green MEP told Euronews. 

"They want to sell combustion cars, fossil [fuel] cars forever. This is really absurd because on one hand most car manufacturers Mercedes, VW - they say already by the year 2030 they only want to have electric cars. And we're talking about the year 2035. So we are really debating far away from reality."

Frans Timmermans, the European Commissioner in charge of the EU's Green Deal - which aims to make the continent climate neutral by 2050 - also defended the 2035 phaseout date when addressing lawmakers on Tuesday.

“As far as European industry is concerned, they want clarity. Clarity, predictability and reliability," Timmermans said in Strasbourg. 

"Let’s not introduce the idea that there could be also in the future fuels that would be clean…for cars and vans that’s nonsense. The car industry has made its choice – don’t confuse them if they are already onboard for electric mobility for cars and vans. Don’t make it more difficult for them."

MEPs will vote Wednesday to establish the Parliament's position on the issue, as well as on other parts of the Fit for 55 package.

Negotiations on the final shape of the legislation will then begin with the European Council.

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